Two weeks until Christmas you guys!
The older I get, the more affection I have for the essence of every holiday. The more I sense that every good tradition is good because it is soaked in Love.
I actively embrace all the frilly details and reject frustrations and complaints about “modern trappings” or “excessive human structures,” because I know why we like them so much: They’re expressions of Love! So I am free to dive in. Give me all the lushness of the season, so long as it is all centered in Love.
This just hit me recently. It hit me how everything that really matters is rooted in and bound by Love, and love encompasses all kinds of celebratory living, every bit as much as lowly service and humility. Sin doesn’t always look a certain way; it’s just anything that steps away from Love. Once in a while I think about this, and the simplicity and grandeur of it all brings me to tears. There is a school of thought that takes it a step further and says that anything we perceive that is not love is actually an illusion. And that “Well being is the only stream that flows,” so anything other than well being is not its own dark force but just what we feel when we interrupt the flow of love. Book mark that thought and get back with me!
How wonderful that we are free to sink in and really enjoy everything the Christmas season has to offer, without having to rail against any of it! Just let Love flow freely through you, between you and your friends and family and strangers. Let Love rule the day and infuse every effort with meaning. Make sure Love is in your thoughts, too. Cozy and safe, from the inside out. As Kellie said recently, “Let Love be your default.”
In her reality-shifting book A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson says, “By affirming that love is our priority in a situation, we actualize the power of God.” And isn’t that precisely what Christmas is, the arrival and actualization of God’s power on earth?
How refreshing and exciting that a whole week of Advent is dedicated to Love. Gifts can be chosen with love, and then that process becomes REALLY FUN instead of arduous. We can decorate our homes with love in our hearts, rather than mechanical habit, honoring traditions and surrounding each other with the colors and fragrances and details that boost our spirits. This sets me free for silliness and a crazy-quilt mix of styles and memories around the farm. Love on every side, in every room, at each animal habitat. When baking time rolls around, and when we plan our family feasts and parties, let’s do that with love too. Certainly, all cooking is at its best when done lovingly. You can taste the difference. Sandy Coughlin always said of opening your home, “Bless, not impress.”
Try filling your December calendar with only loving events and gatherings, and say no to invitations that feel off. If you are facing a difficult relationship or unavoidable confrontation, try to lay the groundwork ahead of time by thinking as many loving thoughts toward that person as you can (I promise you can, and I promise this helps). Use the three-to-one ratio if you need to. Definitely, when you feel the anxiety rising, rehearse loving sentences rather than arguments. Practice seeing the best in everyone, even if you never verbalize those thoughts. It will shift your energy, and this allows you to be a conduit for miracles.
I am huge fan of romance at Christmastime, too! Let it simmer, let it flame, let it warm everything up a few degrees. Romantic love is a gift as much as any other relationship. I feel so lucky that my husband and I get lots of time alone and that he is as much a fan of date nights and quiet nights at home as I am. But we also love double date with friends, eating out and looking at lights in the city, all kinds of fun stuff! I hope young couples (looking at you Jess and Alex) make an effort to spark happy, private memories that no one else knows about and build whatever little Christmas traditions are meaningful to them. Those moments will bind the years together and infuse a special, personal flavor of love into future holiday seasons.
If we believe that God is Love and that He took human form at Christmastime, then Jesus’ birth is nothing but Love incarnate. It’s so simple. We have been taught this all our lives, but it just clicked for me recently, the Advent, the coming, the arrival of Love. It means we literally can enjoy Christmas every single day of our lives. We are invited to do this.
One of the greatest thrills of my adult life has been learning about other religions and how many parallels we share with our friends who are not Christian. Love rules their cultures, too. We may have a very different vernacular, but light bursts open the dark of every culture’s deepest winter, and love is the miracle we all enjoy.
Here’s a passage from the incomparably beautiful novel This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger:
“We breathe love in and we breathe love out. It’s the essence of our existence, the very air of our souls.”
However you spend the next couple of weeks, whatever preparations you choose to make for Christmas weekend, I hope you can remain centered on Love and inspired by its sweetness and strength. I hope you and your people can welcome the arrival of Love in every relationship and every circumstance. I hope that you can feel Love being born over and over again, ever single day. Choose it. Choose Him.
“So to live as if you are unloved
is a limitation.
Living unloved is like
clipping a bird’s wings
and removing its ability to fly.”
Love rules. ANF